Thursday, March 14, 2013


The faces of many Catholics at Mass are not happy faces, says the columnist writing on spirituality for the Catholic Times. An example of this sad situation that readily came to mind was a person he knew; she was living a life without hope because of the pressure of sin. The only word uppermost on her mind was repentance.

Of course, this is different for all, he reminds us. Some see themselves with 10 percent negativity (sin) in their lives, and others see 80 percent. The experience of sin will be different for everyone according to the lifestyle of each one. Those who are dealing with 10 percent failure should look upon the 90 percent and give thanks; those who have 80 percent to deal with should quickly break the surrounding darkness to get to the light.

Educational programs for those in prison may be best advised not to focus too directly on having sorrow for what was done, he says.  Repentance for what we have sinfully done is healthy, but we know that those who want to change do not find it easy to do so. Better it is, he says, to accept our weaknesses and rely on our spiritual faculties to come to our aid. It takes time for some changes to occur, especially when we have been overcome by our faults.

To be sorry for our sins is important but change is also important. Let us consider, he suggests, a husband who drinks and often shouts at his wife. He goes to confession and pledges he will not be violent in his behavior again. The chances are 9 out of 10  that within a week or a month he will be back at his old ways, regardless of the sorrow he felt at the time of his confession.

One step beyond sorrow, the columnist says, is to have an inner change, a spiritual renewal. Something different has to take place within the person. It is good to remember that the word we translate into the different languages to mean repentance is the Greek word 'metanoia', which means a 'changed mind'. This change will not come easily; we need God's help to make this happen, to give us a new way of looking at life, a new way of living our lives.  Without this new way we will continue to return to the past. We have to forget the past (it's no longer here), We have to make the past come into the present and be directed towards the future. This is the work of the spirit. 

God, the columnist reminds us, does not bind us to the the sins of the  past. He released Israel from Egypt and again from Babylon captivity. We need not be chained to the past. We acknowledge what was done but then must move on. If we spend too much time in the past we will become exhausted; we have to move to another level and give ourselves over to a new spiritual energy to change. We have to experience God, and that can only be done here, now. By experiencing God, says the columnist,  we will resonate with the strength that he gives us, without this we will have more vacillation.


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